Your company has a unique product that you’re passionate about and that you think people will really love. You struggle, though, to find a way to explain what’s so great about your company, especially while competing with all the information people are inundated with each day.
One day, you discover you’re not making enough to pay the rent for your office building. You’re feeling desperate, but a new, young employee on your marketing team comes up with an idea. He wants to describe your company and your product to customers with a story.
You begin using this story to explain and promote your business, and it works. Your revenues rise and your product starts becoming popular. Eventually, an investor contacts you and wants to invest in your company. You make a deal with the investor and end up making a lot of money and retaining control of your company. You live happily ever after.
The above three paragraphs utilize what’s known as Freytag’s pyramid, a pattern for storytelling that’s comprised of things you may have heard of in English class, like rising action, climax and resolution.
Storytelling, especially storytelling that follows the pattern of Freytag’s pyramid, is one of the most effective strategies marketers can use. Here are five examples of storytelling in advertising and explanations of why they work so well.
Showing a Hero’s Journey
Nike’s brand is one of the most iconic in the world. Their logo, slogan and the stories their advertising tell are known the world over. The story is a classic one: the journey of the hero.
By adapting this proven storyline to the world of sports, Nike put their customers in the role of the hero. Their dragon-slaying sword, the ads suggest, are their Nike shoes.
Nike also tells the stories of real athletes in their ads. This is effective because, not only does everyone want to be a hero, but they also want to emulate the heroes they look up to. This famous ad, aired around the time of Michael Jordan’s retirement, tells the story of his career.
The success of Nike’s ads shows the story you use in your advertising doesn’t have to be revolutionary or even new for that matter. It can be a retelling of a classic tale or a real-life story.
Telling Your Audience’s Story
Dove takes storytelling seriously. They even have a whole section called “Dove Stories” on their website. These aren’t just any stories though. They’re the stories of the everyday people that use Dove’s products.
Dove’s famous campaigns promoting appreciation of natural beauty, self-confidence and being yourself connect with people because they spread a feel-good message that encourages people to improve themselves and society.
The success of Dove’s storytelling proves you don’t have to fabricate an extravagant saga to make an impact. You can simply tell the truth and promote the values you feel are important in story form. It also demonstrates why stories about your audience resonate with them.
Telling Stories Through Pictures
Airbnb takes a similar approach to storytelling. They also dedicate a section of their website to stories, but dive even further into the stories of their actual customers.
Airbnb’s website recounts tales of how various real-life people used Airbnb in inspiring ways.
Another aspect of the company’s storytelling marketing is the way it uses pictures to tell the story. Before even reading the stories, you get a feeling for what they’re going to be like by looking at the pictures of their protagonists.
The pictures portray the stories’ heroes as happy, friendly, approachable everyday folks. These kinds of subtle visual cues are important for making sure customers get the right message.
Telling Your Company’s Story
Warby Parker is a perfect example of how to tell your company’s story. Warby Parker began after one of its founders lost a pair of $700 glasses. Dismayed by the high cost of eyewear, the four founders set out to infiltrate the glasses industry.
One of the reasons glasses are so expensive, Warby Parker explains, is because one huge company, Luxxotica, controls most of the industry. This massive corporation owns tons of eyewear brands, eyewear retailers and vision insurance companies.
Warby Parker paints itself as a rebel, fighting against the big guys for the good of the everyday consumer. That story is true, and it resonates with people. It demonstrates a value beyond just the products Warby Parker sells. It demonstrates a social value too.
Telling your company’s story and the story of the industry you operate in can do wonders for your marketing, as evidenced by Warby Parker’s success.
Telling Emotional Stories
This ad by Google is an incredible example of how effective an emotional story can be.
In this advertisement, a man tells his granddaughter the story of his childhood best friend whom he was forced to leave when India and Pakistan become separate countries. The granddaughter, touched by the story, uses Google to track down the friend and arrange a reunion.
This ad shows that good-old emotional impact still works, and the story you tell doesn’t have to be directly about your company or your customers to be effective.
Storytelling is a craft that goes back to the dawn of recorded time and not just because we tend to tell history in story form. It may be old, but it’s still effective and can be used for many different purposes including advertising.
So, the next time you’re in a marketing funk, try to take a step back and find a story to tell. It might just help your brand live happily ever after. The end.